Senate Looking At Medical Malpractice Legislation

Tom Crawford reports that Medical Malpractice Legislation is working it’s way through a Senate committee.  In an attempt to reign in costs, the committee proposes to switch from a trial/jury based compensation system to one of a “patient compensation system” in lieu of the injured having a right to sue.  The entire report is worth a read, but here are three money quotes:

Senator Brandon Beach, in favor:

“We really can’t do anything about what’s happening in Washington, but we can control what happens in Georgia,” said Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), the sponsor of SB 141.

Senator Fran Millar, with reservations:

“I can’t see how a court system that wouldn’t allow (damage) caps would allow you to take away a patient’s right to sue,” said Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody). “I’m getting tired of being overturned by the Supreme Court.”

And, perhaps more telling, the doctors are siding with the trial lawyers:

Dr. John Rogers of Macon, president of the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians, said that “very few” of his medical colleagues would support the concept of SB 141.

“The financial concerns are still there for physicians,” Rogers said. “I don’t see how this changes any of the dynamics.”

Keep an eye on this one.  It’s where the money is, so it will be where the action is.



  1. Cloverhurst says:

    The Patients Compensation System is a great idea. Its passage would make Georgia a pioneer in reigning in healthcare costs. Today’s malpractice/injury system is broken. Attorney’s won’t work with patients who have claims worth less than 500k. From my reading, the proposed system would allow claims to be assessed by medical experts, and patients to receive just compensation quickly.

    • Raleigh says:

      I have read it which is what will be voted on not what is said in some meeting. The 11 board members is broke down with the following representatives in the bill, section 51-13-4.

      5 to be appointed by the Governor, 1 must be a doctor, 1 a business leader, 1 a hospital administrator, 1 must be a CPA, and 1 an Attorney.

      3 to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, 1 will be a doctor, 1 a patient advocate, and 1 is undefined.

      3 appointed by the Speaker of the House, 1 will be a doctor, and 1 a patient advocate, and 1 is undefined.

      Out of 11 members 3 doctors and 1 hospital administrator and only 2 patient advocates? Looks like the “patient” may only have 2 people on the board who may look out for their interest. You wouldn’t think the deck is stacked against the patient do you?

      This is a bad bill which will create yet another bloated state bureaucracy in the tradition of the new federal health care laws. It’s just more and more big government by politicians who claim to be fiscal conservatives but are really Reed and Pelosi liberals at their core.

  2. UpHere says:

    Look for McKenna Long and Aldridge;s fingerprints all over this one. Beach doesn’t do anything without blessings of Mark Burkhalter.

  3. Three Jack says:

    I’m with Millar on this one. Does Georgia’s AG keep a condo near the Supreme Court, might as well with all the non-sense put through by this GOP legislature.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      I didn’t expect it, but was hoping the link would indicate who funded Brandon Beach’s ALEC “scholarship” and in what amount, and where and when he went to “school”.

      It’s all so transparent you know.

  4. GOPundit says:

    Yeah Rick Jackson of Jackson Healthcare has been pushing this for a couple years. I think it’s just as unconstitutional as Workers Comp. if you’re hurt and have a case you should be able to exercise you’re right to sue if you don’t keep on moving. I think that we need tort reform and all but I think that making things separate from our courts because its easier is subversive to our constitution.

  5. GB101 says:

    This bill will probably not get anywhere and that is a good thing.

    The proponents can’t get their story straight. Sometimes it is a no fault system. Sometimes the backers talk about avoidable bad outcome, which is what the bill says but the definition defies understanding. However, the worst moment was at the last hearing when Rick Jackson said that the panel would in practice make decisions based on a negligence standard.

    Well, before proposing legislation, they should decide what they want and tell a consistent story.

    At they hearing they showed a chart with med mal insurers making a 30 cent profit of out of each premium dollar collected. That is simply bizarre. A fantasy. As one member of the committee pointed out, if profits like are to be had word would get out and everybody and his brother would get into the med mal insurance business. But it get bizarrer. The patient injury act would cut this (fantasy) profit in half. And this would encourage more insurers to sell med mal in Ga.

    Got that? The way to encourage businesses to do business in Ga is to halve their profit.

    But it gets even bizarrer. Insurers can’t defend claims. If they think the doctor has not done anything wrong, they can’t do anything about it. They just write checks. Insurers have no role whatsoever in the process after they issue a policy. They just pay what the board says to pay and that is that, no appeal. Yes, that’ll make them flock to Ga alright.

    But wait. It gets even bizarrer. For some reason the defense lawyers still are to be paid 9 cents out of every premium dollar. Good work if you can get it. Do nothing and still get paid.

    • DavidTC says:

      The sad thing is, there are reforms that need to be done, and a workable system could basically look like this one. Somewhere where patients could bring claims _without_ a lawyer, and have some sort of appointed board or specialized court look at them, with a patient advocate in there to push for them.

      This proposal, OTOH, is nonsense.

      I especially love the Republican nonsense of making sure a ‘business leader’ is in there. What the hell is that even trying to accomplish? Why would a business leader know about this? I’m suspecting it’s so he can nod along to the explanation that the malpractice was due to cutting costs, and cutting costs is a reasonable thing for hospitals to do, so _of course_ the doctor shouldn’t be liable.

      Same with a CPA. Why would a CPA be on there?

      The dirty secret that no one ever wants to talk about is that the problem is not that malpractice insurance is too high…insurance is priced exactly right for the amount of payouts. (Insurance is one of the markets it’s nearly impossible to have incorrect pricing.) And the amount of payouts are probably _too low_ for the current healthcare system, where mistakes run rampant.

      The problem is that last part of that last sentence. Health care has decided to run itself like a business so much that cost cutting has resulted in unavoidable errors. Which of course do hurt people, and people _should_ be able to sue over and _should_ be able to collect large amounts. It doesn’t ‘fix’ the system to render them unable to collect those amounts, it makes the brokenness of the system accelerate!

      If medicine doesn’t like this, medicine needs to stop _trying to squeeze every penny_ of profits out.

      Problem: We’ve got a system where errors are hitting a critical mass, and thus people suing over these extremely harmful and often lethal errors are costing the system too much money!
      Solution, apparently: Make it harder for people to sue over the harmful and often lethal errors. Problem solved!

  6. John Konop says:

    I have not read the bill, and find many points all of you brought up interesting. What I do know is Brandon Beach is very thoughtfull and is always opent to suggestions. Irronically I find that Fran Miller is the same via the post…..I know both of them would be very open to suggestions to improve any bill. Both of them do a very good job!

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